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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract -

Effect of Tillage on Soil-Water Movement During Corn Growth1


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 43 No. 6, p. 1222-1225
    Received: May 11, 1979
    Accepted: July 20, 1979

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  1. A. B. Weatherly and
  2. J. H. Dane2



The occurrence of drought during the growing season often limits the amount of soil water available for plant growth. The availability of soil water can further be limited if a hard layer exists not too far below the soil surface. Field experiments were therefore conducted on a Cahaba sandy loam soil (Typic Hapludult) to determine the effect of tillage practices on soil water movement during corn (Zea mays L.) growth. Four tillage practices, viz., conventional-tillage-without-subsoiling, conventional-tillage-with-subsoiling, no-tillage-without-subsoiling, and no-tillage-with-subsoiling, were studied on a soil with a plow plan. Soil water contents and soil water pressure heads were measured with a neutron probe and tensiometers, respectively. Water extraction by roots was determined by application of the integral form of the general transport equation for soil water. Soil water movement and water uptake were less for the conventional-tillage-without-subsoiling treatment than for the other treatments. The two subsoiled treatments and the no-tillage-without-subsoiling treatment indicated root penetration and soil-water uptake below 50 cm.

When soil water uptake patterns were compared with corn yield on a weight-per-ear basis, there was a direct, positive correlation between the amount of water taken up by the corn plants and corn yield.

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